Published 20 March 2017
“It was so important for me to be there for my family” – Mandy Wilde tells her own story of beating breast cancer as she hands over giant donation to help hospital beat the disease
The glitzy glamour of a star-studded fundraising ball at Knebworth House in November may be fading from the memory – but the giant stack of cash it gathered in has proved to be a smash hit this week.
The event – put together by music producer Ricky Wilde and his wife Mandy, and featuring a string of big name 1980s acts including Mandy’s sister-in-law Kim Wilde – made more than £70,000 for its chosen good cause.
As the money was handed over to the Hertfordshire Breast Unit Appeal on Friday, mother-of-three Mandy reflected on her very personal connection to the charity push. She spoke frankly about her own battle cancer, and why having a mastectomy should not have to be a taboo subject for women. Mandy underwent a double mastectomy three years ago after doctors found pre-cancerous cells in her breasts. She had both breasts removed at the QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City and full breast reconstruction surgery at Lister Hospital in Stevenage.
Mandy says all women need to check themselves carefully for signs of breast cancer and should not be put off by the stigma of having a mastectomy.
She says: “I would tell anybody not to worry. For me it was a no-brainer as soon as the doctor told me what I had. I didn’t feel my femininity was at risk. For me it was far more important to be here for my family and my husband”
“My daughter-in-law was pregnant at the time and that’s what got me through the operation, because we were going to be having a new baby in the family. I even took a photo of the scan with me into hospital and I kept looking at it and that’s what kept me going. The family were all very supportive and I had so many visitors I don’t think the hospital knew what was happening. My husband was right behind me, too.”
Mandy and Ricky have now presented a cheque for £71,000 to Mandy’s specialists –consultant plastic surgeon Miles Dickson and consultant breast surgeon Peter Crane –as well as Vicki Adkins who set up the Hertfordshire Breast Unit Appeal.
The charity will use the cash to buy new equipment including a state-of-the-art scanner currently being tried out in the plastic surgery unit at the Lister Hospital.
“I had such fabulous care at the Lister and I’m keen for everyone to know how fantastic they were,” said Mandy.
“The hospitals often get a bad press, but I’ve got nothing but praise for them. We’re very proud we’ve been able to raise such a lot of money and they are already putting it to good use with some of the equipment they’ve been buying. If we can raise money to buy the machines that can detect breast cancer sooner and for trials to try to find a cure, we’re all for doing everything we can as a family.”
The Herts Breast Unit Appeal supported the opening of a breast cancer unit at the QEII Hospital but when that closed in 2006, switched to supporting breast cancer care at the Lister. Both hospitals are run by the East & North Herts NHS Trust, which also oversees the specialist Mount Vernon Cancer Centre at Northwood.
Vicki set up the charity after she herself battled breast cancer in 1996. She said: “It’s the biggest donation we’ve ever had. I’m amazed how Mandy has been able to raise that kind of money. It just shows what you can do if you’ve got a passion for something.”
Tickets for the ball cost £150 and cash was raised from a charity auction backed by many celebrities and a host of Stevenage businesses.
Stars who performed included Brother Beyond, Cutting Crew, Howard Jones and both Kim and her dad Marty Wilde.
Mandy had already organised one ball two years ago, which raised £40,000 for the appeal. She is already planning a third event which will take place next year.